If you are going to be in Cleveland the beginning of next week (July 28th and 29th), you might want to check out the Parker Hannifin Chainless Challenge. Teams of up to five engineering students from quite a few different universities have been working for a year on human/hydraulic powered bicycles that will be judged and raced in just a few days. You can read the design guidelines that the students had to follow by clicking through the slideshow presentation on the Motion Control Training page of the Parker website (click the Chainless Challenge button to get there). The bicycle entries must meet criteria for reliability, manufacturability, and cost effectiveness, but the big constraint that I want to point out is this one; the motive of power for each bike has to be hydraulic. That means no chain connection between the chainwheel and the freewheel cogs is allowed. I am only showing a couple here, but take a look through the pictures of the ‘05 and ‘06 events and you can see some of the interesting machines that resulted from the unusual design constraints.
The sprint race will be held at Parker Hannifin’s corporate headquarters (6035 Parkland Blvd., in Mayfield Heights -Landerhaven Corporate Center) on Monday the 28th. The following day, the 29th, the students will have to prove their concepts with a 12-mile time trial. A map of the course, which features 400 feet of elevation change on each of 3 laps, can be seen on the website (again remember that you have to click the Chainless Challenge button to get there). The first bike to roll on the test circuit will leave the start/finish line on Valley Parkway Road at 9:00 AM Tuesday morning July 29. Those who wish to observe the contest should park at the park entrance (Scenic Overlook lot) on Rt. 82, the Harriet Keeler Picnic Area or the Oak Grove Picnic Area prior to the contest. Let me know if any of you make it out to watch the students compete on the designs they have worked so hard on. It sounds like something that will be a lot of fun to watch.
While I am posting, I’ll mention something else that I saw this week. I posted about the NYC CityRacks design competition a while back, so I want to point out that the finalists have been announced. You can see a few of the finalist at the Core blog and even more at Bustler. If you are interested in less serious coverage of the designs that were chosen as the ten finalists, read what Bike Snob NYC had to say. I was glad that he pointed out the absurdity of the front wheel locking design. Really, somebody had to do it. Personally, my favorite finalist is the Beetlelab design. It looks clean in an urban setting and it functions basically just like a good old inverted U rack. As much as I like to throw out new ideas, I am a firm believer that simple solutions are usually the best ones. I think this is a great example of a case where reinventing the wheel is not really necessary.